Sunday Times 4th October 2009

Our consultation exercise will also ensure STFC is prudently prepared for the tougher budget environment facing the UK public sector. STFC has publicly stated that the consultation must, of necessity, ask tough questions about the future direction of our science and technology programme, including the balance between disciplines.

The consultation encompasses all of STFC’s programme, and includes an examination of the cost-effectiveness of the international subscriptions managed by STFC to provide access to world-leading facilities for the UK research base, including CERN, the European Southern Observatory, the ILL neutron source and others. All UK publicly-funded bodies have a responsibility to ensure value-for-money, and STFC has discussed with our international partners the need to restrain costs and, if possible, reduce expenditure.

This consultation is not concluded, and no decisions have been taken. We encourage wider community involvement in the consultation, and to that end the draft reports of our advisory panels and reviews (link opens in a new window) are available on our website.

The consultation exercise will, by December, have enabled widespread input, analysis and planning so that Council can make firm decisions about 2010-11, and set the broad parameters for future years in the more competitive financial environment likely to face the research communities for some time to come.

STFC and our fellow Research Councils are extremely well placed to contribute to the nation’s recovery from this economic downturn. But it will be some time before this flows through to public finances, so we are preparing now to be able to live within constrained budgets if need be, and to diversify our funding base. We are looking forward to the next few months – they will be challenging, but an exciting opportunity to set the course for the future.

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